Paddler Takes on Australia’s Biggest River…alone
Earlier today – Wednesday 2 February 2011 – one of Australia’s best whitewater paddlers, Lachie Carracher, set off on an one-man expedition that, if successful, will see him become the first person to ever paddle solo down the Fitzroy River in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The mighty Fitzroy is Australia’s largest volume river. Now, heavily swollen after the tempestuous recent arrival of la Nina, it ranks among the fastest and wildest rivers in the world. In a recent interview with Outer Edge on SEN 1116 radio, Lachie told us that the Fitzroy’s flow is 21 times greater than the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon and far greater volume than the Nile, Zambezi and the Niagara.
Only a handful of paddlers have ever taken on such a large volume river on their own, and Lachie’s attempt at a solo descent of the 700km-plus Fitzroy is a first. The Fitzroy charges its way through four major gorges and the rock found in these areas is some of the oldest in the world. During the wet season the Fitzroy catchment and most of the Kimberley (an area three times the size of England) has its limited road system completely cut off; the only access to the cattle stations and Aboriginal communities is by air (as long as the airstrips aren’t flooded).
“It will take me two days of paddling to reach the Fitzroy, but once I get onto the river I have no real idea how long it will take me to do the descent,” Lachie told Outer Edge. “It all depends on the water levels. It might take me a week, but with recent rainfall I might be out in two days!”
Last year Lachie led a team of elite international paddlers down the Fitzroy, where they encountered fascinating and very rarely seen examples of Gwion Gwion artwork, thought to be up to 25,000 years old. The team encountered several Grade 5 rapids and numerous large-drop waterfalls, but that trip took place during a time of unprecedented low water levels. This time Lachie will be facing a very different river, and this time he’ll be doing it alone.
Read a full account of Lachie’s last trip along the Fitzroy in the latest edition of Outer Edge or online here, and follow Lachie’s progress daily on the Outer Edge website: outer-edge.com.au. A full account of his expedition will appear in a future edition of Wild magazine. Good luck Lachie, we’ll be on that river with you mate (in spirit at least).
MORE ABOUT LACHIE
Lachie Carracher, Outer Edge‘s Young Adventurer of the Year 2009, has held a place on the Australian Whitewater Kayak Team since 2005. When not competing he is usually very hard to find, as he’s typically off exploring wild rivers and remote areas of the globe, anywhere from Uganda to Nepal, or in our own enormous and under-explored backyard here in Australia. A film maker, photographer and writer (as well as world-class paddler), he is passionate about the conservation of the planet’s wild places, and is currently working on his debut feature film, the Calling, with Joel Kowalski. Find out more about Lachie by visiting follow-the-river.com.
Lachie is being supported and sponsored by Fluid Kayaks, and the following people are supplying equipment:
Sea To Summit
Back Packers Pantry
Kayak 4 Play
One Planet Communications
Astral life jackets